Securing places of worship

Unfortunately, we live in a time when religiously motivated hate crime is on the rise, with the Home Office reporting that these incidents rose by 40% across England and Wales between 2016-18. The UK government has offered to cover 80% of improvements for places of worship through a grant, in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand.

These places of worship – such as synagogues, cathedrals and mosques – are facing an increasing threat of terrorism and hate crime which, along with threats to personal safety, can also include theft and arson. Religious facilities vary greatly in size and resources, resulting in a diverse commitment to security. Each site will have different considerations, but there are guidelines that recommend how any place of worship can be well protected so that people can meet and practise their faith safely.

Non-intrusive security measures

One of the most important considerations is to ensure that the place of worship is secure yet still presents a welcoming environment. Managing the aesthetics is vital so that worshippers aren’t entering an intimidating space and still feel safe on the grounds. Non-intrusive security measures therefore need to be implemented following a risk assessment that identifies potential vulnerabilities.

Managing entry and egress from the site is key to improving security. Reduce access points to an essential number to minimise the opportunity for unauthorised entry. When opening the facility, consider the event, the number of people, and the location of the event. Limit access by only opening doors that are close to the area being used and reduce opportunities for just one person to be alone.

A high-quality perimeter solution is also essential in crime prevention. When specifying perimeter fencing for places of worship, consider whether the look of the barrier matches the style of the buildings. For sites in higher risk areas, fencing certified to LPS 1175 A1(SR1) should be considered. It is good practice to ensure that any fencing, gates or other security systems are effectively maintained.

If a risk assessment identifies the threat of vehicular attack, consider the installation of vehicle barriers or bollards. These can help to protect vulnerable entry points and reduce the terrorist threat when stand-off distance is required for vehicles.

Integrated lighting and CCTV strategy

Unlit areas can provide a hiding place for thieves and potential attackers, so it’s important that suitable and effective lighting is installed to eliminate shaded areas. Motion-sensor lights are particularly effective as are low-wattage solutions that automatically switch on at dusk and remain on until dawn. Security best practice indicates that lights should be placed on all doors and windows.

CCTV should be considered for critical areas such as access points, and around assets that are most likely to be stolen, while careful consideration must be given to the management of the system. This includes cleaning the equipment regularly, changing the tapes, storing recordings, and informing the public that they’re being recorded. Most non-domestic CCTV systems must be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in order to comply with GDPR. CCTV and lighting systems must be integrated so that they work together in an effective manner.

Finally, try to utilise the existing features in the landscape around the place of worship for security purposes. This includes obstructive trees, noisy gravel, blocking rocks and thorny bushes – all of which you can exploit to deter potential criminals.

Jacksons Fencing manufactures a range of fencing and gates that are suitable for protecting religious centres which are vulnerable to attacks. Our Security Rated fencing prevents unauthorised entry, protects visitors, deters crime and keeps pedestrians safe from vehicles.

For more information on how we can secure your place of worship, simply contact us today.

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